Survival under seige: Resourceful Syrians make prosthetic limbs from makeshift parts

Nine-year-old Amjad Abu Saeed takes first steps after receiving his prosthetic limb. Photo:

On a summer’s day in 2012, Amjad Abu Saeed's future changed forever.

He remembers seeing the warplanes overhead and watching the bombs drop.

As he ran in panic he tripped and fell. Nearby a building exploded and masonry tumbled over him.

He woke in hospital to find doctors had saved one leg - though it was mangled and almost useless.

But his right leg they had amputated, above the knee.

Amjad Abu Saeed's right leg was amputated after it was severely damaged in an airstrike.

So end many stories in Syria’s relentless slides towards savagery.

But a year on, Amjad's story is one of resilience in the face of daunting odds.

Neighbours in the rebel held suburb of Damascus where he lives have created a workshop in which they manufactured artificial limbs from the stuff found in junk yards; old car parts and drain pipes, even buckets.

For Amjad they found a shop dummy that once modelled children’s clothes.

It became the donor in a crude but effective transplant to replace his missing limb.

Report contains images that viewers may find distressing

The men at the workshop have no particular training; they are shopkeepers and tradesman, who have taught themselves new skills.

"We began from necessity and tragedy and from the hope of friends who want to give back to those less fortunate,’’ says Abu Laiz, the project’s founder.

A prosthetic limb is made from makeshift materials

The mannequin leg is temporary for Ahmad. As he grows he will need a new, more sophisticated limb.

"Each prosthetic is unique because we make it from whatever we can source. We have found a way to move a knee, then the ankle and more recently the hip bone.’’

Mannequins and other materials are used to make the prosthetics.

In a conflict that has killed 100,000, and injured many times that number, there are no really accurate figures about the numbers of amputees.

According to the British based charity, Handicapped International, which works with victims disabled in the war, a quarter of its beneficiaries are younger than twelve years old.

Back in Damascus, Abu Laiz says he has a waiting list of nearly two hundred.

Amjad says he is determined to walk again. Amid the brutality, a victory for humanity.